Rep. Kinzinger-Sponsored Bill Would Grant Sweeping New War Powers to Biden

Rep. Kinzinger-Sponsored Bill Would Grant Sweeping New War Powers to Biden
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) speaks to the press after Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) was ousted from her leadership role in the House Republican Conference at U.S. Capitol in Washington, on May 12, 2021. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/AP Photo)
Joseph Lord

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) on Monday introduced legislation that would give President Joe Biden sweeping new powers to conduct and manage U.S. aid to Ukraine as the Russian invasion of the country moves into its ninth week of fighting.

Kinzinger’s Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), if passed, would grant Biden congressional approval to deploy U.S. ground troops if Russian President Vladimir Putin uses chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons.

“I’m introducing this AUMF as a clear redline so the Administration can take appropriate action should Russia use chemical, biological, and/or nuclear weapons. We must stand up for humanity and we must stand with our allies,” Kinzinger said of the bill.

“As the President of the United States has said, Putin must be stopped,” he said, echoing a common refrain from the White House. “Accordingly, the Commander in Chief to the world’s greatest military should have the authority and means to take the necessary actions to do so.”

The AUMF would end once the president “certifies to Congress that the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been restored.”

“Words matter, but so do our actions. I’m introducing this AUMF as a clear redline so @POTUS can take appropriate action if Russia uses chemical, biological, and/or nuclear weapons,” Kinzinger said in a May 1 tweet announcing the bill. “We must stand up for humanity and we must stand with our allies.”

Kinzinger has long pushed for a more active U.S. presence in the region, leading to open spats with conservative commentators like Tucker Carlson who have pushed for the United States to stay out.

In a bill introduced earlier this year, Kinzinger proposed a bill promising the nation of Georgia financial and military support if Russia attempted to invade.

“Russia’s aggression on a sovereign nation isn’t new,” Kinzinger wrote in an April 29 tweet. “We saw it in 2008 when they invaded Georgia. As Putin’s failed campaign in Ukraine continues, we must show we stand with our allies. This week the House did so by passing my bill with @GerryConnolly, the Georgia Support Act.”

Prior to his wide-reaching AUMF bill, Kinzinger pushed the administration to send high-powered MiG fighter jets to the region, a proposal that some other lawmakers worried could cause the conflict to escalate.

“We cannot allow Ukraine sovereignty to be walked over by a ruthless authoritarian,” Kinzinger wrote in a March 17 tweet. “We know Putin will do anything for power; using any means necessary to break the Ukrainian spirit. Standing with Ukraine has to be more than just words. We must send the MiGs now.”
Kinzinger’s more interventionist approach to the Ukraine conflicts highlights an ongoing split among Republicans, some of whom have called for a more active role in the conflict, while others have called for the United States to focus on its own domestic issues instead.

In the weeks leading up to and following the invasion of Ukraine, many in the GOP old guard called for debilitating sanctions on Russia, supplies and monetary assistance to Ukraine, and U.S. boots on the ground—one lawmaker, Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), even suggested that the United States shouldn’t rule out a nuclear first strike against Russia.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who voted in favor of the Iraq War and has maintained a strongly interventionist attitude toward foreign relations, called for massive sanctions on Russia, echoing the sentiments of many senators on both sides of the aisle.

Another side of the Republican Party, generally younger, newer faces on the political scene, have called for the United States to stay out of the conflict.

In an interview J.D. Vance, a Trump-backed GOP contender for outgoing Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-Ohio) seat, gave a significantly different answer on how the United States should respond to the Russian invasion.

“I gotta be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another,” said Vance. “I’m sick of Joe Biden focusing on the border of a country I don’t care about while he lets the border of his own country become a total war zone.”

Candace Owens, a black conservative woman who has been pegged as a potential candidate for public office in the future, went a step further than Vance, blaming the crisis on the United States and NATO.

“I suggest every American who wants to know what’s actually going on in Russia and Ukraine, read this transcript of Putin’s address. As I’ve said for month[s]—NATO (under direction from the United States) is violating previous agreements and expanding eastward. WE are at fault,” Owens said in a Tuesday tweet.
In a separate tweet, she added, “If you think America has never been the aggressor in war—you are not ‘pro-American’ you are pro-ignorance.”

It remains unclear how other lawmakers will respond to Kinzinger’s resolution, which could lead to a significant escalation in the conflict if passed.

During a May 1 visit to Ukraine, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised Ukrainians that “support is on the way,” suggesting that she may be in favor of bringing Kinzinger’s bill to the floor for a vote.
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